Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't Know Much About History

Bill Clinton spoke on the Charlie Rose show about Iran. Here is what he said.

Clinton: ... Iran's a whole different kettle of fish—but it's a sad story that really began in the 1950s when the United States deposed Mr. Mossadegh, who was an elected parliamentary democrat, and brought the Shah back in and then he was overturned by the Ayatollah Khomeini, driving us into the arms of one Saddam Hussein. Most of the terrible things Saddam Hussein did in the 1980s he did with the full, knowing support of the United States government, because he was in Iran, and Iran was what it was because we got rid of the parliamentary democracy back in the '50s; at least, that is my belief.

I know it is not popular for an American ever to say anything like this, but I think it's true, and I apologized when President Khatami was elected. I publicly acknowledged that the United States had actively overthrown Mossadegh and I apologized for it, and I hope that we could have some rapprochement with Iran. I think basically the Europeans' initiative to Iran to try to figure out a way to defuse the nuclear crisis is a good one.

I think President Bush has done, so far, the right thing by not taking the military option off the table, but not pushing it too much. I didn't like the story that looked like the military option had been elevated above a diplomatic option. But Iran is the most perplexing problem ... we face, for the following reasons: It is the only country in the world with two governments, and the only country in the world that has now had six elections since the first election of President Khatami. It is the only one with elections, including the United States, including Israel, including you name it, where the liberals, or the progressives, have won two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote in six elections: two for President; two for the parliament, the Majlis; two for the mayoralities.

In every single election, the guys I identify with got two-thirds to 70% of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own.

So, as POTUS, he apologized to Iran for the US doing mean things to Mr. Mossadegh in the 1950's. Maybe if Bill Clinton knew about world history he would know what the Iranians think of Mr. Mossadegh. Amir Taheri spells out Mr. Clinton's lack of knowledge in this article.

Duped by a myth spread by the Blame-America-First coalition, Clinton appears to have done little homework on Iran. The truth is that Iran in the 1950s was not a parliamentary democracy but a constitutional monarchy in which the Shah appointed, and dismissed, the prime minister. Mossadegh was named prime minister twice by the Shah and twice dismissed. In what way that meant that the US “got rid of parliamentary democracy” that did not exist is not clear.

There are at least two things that Clinton does not know about Iran and Iranians.

The first is that the claim that the US changed the course of Iranian history on a whim would be seen by most Iranians, a proud people, as an insult from an arrogant politician who exaggerates the powers of his nation more than half a century ago. The second thing that Clinton does not know is that in the Islamic Republic that he so admires, Mossadegh, far from being regarded as a national hero, is an object of intense vilification. One of the first acts of the mullas after seizing power in 1979 was to take the name of Mossadegh off a street in Tehran. They then sealed off the village where Mossadegh is buried to prevent his supporters from gathering at his tomb. History textbooks written by the mullas present Mossadegh as the “son of a feudal family of exploiters who worked for the cursed Shah, and betrayed Islam.”

Apologizing to the mullas for a wrong supposedly done to Mossadegh is like begging Josef Stalin’s pardon for a discourtesy toward Alexander Kerensky.

Clinton does not know that it was President Harry S. Truman’s energetic intervention in 1946 that forced Stalin to withdraw his armies from northwestern Iran thus foiling a Communist attempt to dismember the Iranian state.

Clinton does not know that if anyone has to apologize it is the mullas who should apologize to both the Iranian and the American peoples. He does not appear to remember images of American diplomats paraded in front of TV cameras, blindfolded, and threatened with summary execution every day — images that did lasting damage to the good name of Iran as a civilized nation.

Speaking of apologies, Clinton also ignores the fact that Iranian agents in Lebanon, led by the “ liberal progressive” Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Mohtashami, organized and carried out a string of terrorist attacks in the 1980s that cost the lives of over 300 US citizens, including 240 Marines.

And does Clinton remember the dozens of American citizens who were held hostage by the mullas’ agents in Lebanon, sometimes for more than five years?

Mark Steyn also has some historical information about the Islamic Republic of Iran.

If you dust off the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, Article One reads: “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” Iran fails to meet qualification (d), and has never accepted it. The signature act of the new regime was not the usual post-coup bloodletting and summary execution of the shah’s mid-ranking officials but the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by “students” acting with Khomeini’s blessing. Diplomatic missions are recognized as the sovereign territory of that state, and the violation thereof is an act of war. No one in Washington has to fret that Fidel Castro will bomb the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Even in the event of an actual war, the diplomatic staff of both countries would be allowed to depart.

Yet Iran seized protected persons on U.S. soil and held them prisoner for over a year—ostensibly because Washington was planning to restore the shah. But the shah died and the hostages remained. And, when the deal was eventually done and the hostages were released, the sovereign territory of the United States remained in the hands of the gangster regime. Granted that during the Carter administration the Soviets were gobbling up real estate from Afghanistan to Grenada, it’s significant that in this wretched era the only loss of actual U.S. territory was to the Islamists.

Yet Iran paid no price. They got away with it. For the purposes of comparison, in 1980, when the U.S. hostages in Tehran were in their sixth month of captivity, Iranians opposed to the mullahs seized the Islamic Republic’s embassy in London. After six days of negotiation, Her Majesty’s Government sent SAS commandos into the building and restored it to the control of the regime. In refusing to do the same with the “students” occupying the U.S. embassy, the Islamic Republic was explicitly declaring that it was not as other states.

We expect multilateral human-rights Democrats to be unsatisfactory on assertive nationalism, but if they won’t even stand up for international law, what’s the point? Jimmy Carter should have demanded the same service as Tehran got from the British—the swift resolution of the situation by the host government—and, if none was forthcoming, Washington should have reversed the affront to international order quickly, decisively, and in a sufficiently punitive manner. At hinge moments of history, there are never good and bad options, only bad and much much worse. Our options today are significantly worse because we didn’t take the bad one back then.

It's not just the historical 1980 embassy siege, but many examples are listed by Steyn of actions showing Iran does not respect other states.

Iran’s supreme Leader instructed Muslims around the world to serve as executioners of the Islamic Republic—and they did, killing not Rushdie himself but his Japanese translator, and stabbing the Italian translator, and shooting the Italian publisher, and killing three dozen persons with no connection to the book when a mob burned down a hotel because of the presence of the novelist’s Turkish translator.

Iran’s de facto head of state offered a multimillion-dollar bounty for a whack job on an obscure English novelist. And, as with the embassy siege, he got away with it.

In 1994, the Argentine Israel Mutual Association was bombed in Buenos Aires. Nearly 100 people died and 250 were injured—the worst massacre of Jewish civilians since the Holocaust. An Argentine court eventually issued warrants for two Iranian diplomats plus Ali Fallahian, former intelligence minister, and Ali Akbar Parvaresh, former education minister and deputy speaker of the Majlis.

Why blow up a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires? Because it’s there. Unlike the Iranian infiltration into Bosnia and Croatia, which helped radicalize not just the local populations but Muslim supporters from Britain and Western Europe, the random slaughter in the Argentine has no strategic value except as a demonstration of muscle and reach.

Now there are some who think this diary is unfair because, after all Bill Clinton makes a distinction between the religious mulla hotheads and the moderate Iranians. Steyn offers this tidbit about this distinction.

What’s the difference between a hothead and a moderate? Well, the extremist Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” while the moderate Rafsanjani has declared that Israel is “the most hideous occurrence in history,” which the Muslim world “will vomit out from its midst” in one blast, because “a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world.” Evidently wiping Israel off the map seems to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus in Tehran, the Iranian equivalent of a prescription drug plan for seniors: we’re just arguing over the details.

And let’s not forget Bill Clinton’s extraordinary remarks at Davos:

Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority.

He should hear what an Iranian woman, Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi told Glenn Beck about Iran.

BECK: OK. Women are respected more and families are ten times happier.

ZAND-BONAZZI: Yes. Well, you know, when respect becomes synonymous with control, then I guess, of course, it is a matter of happiness for the controller.

You know, as you know yourself and you`ve said it, as well as so many of your other experts and pundits have said here, in Iran a woman is 50 percent of a man. A woman is not allowed to do anything without her husband`s permission or her male family members.

Women have been prostitutes, basically, because there`s no jobs, because everybody is in an economic situation where, if they have to feed themselves and there`s no way to earn a living, they become prostitutes. And most often a lot of these days -- recent days women have been abducted and murdered and/or sold in slavery.

BECK: Is it true that you can be traded off or whatever as a woman and married off as early as 9?

ZAND-BONAZZI: Yes, indeed.

BECK: See, you don`t have that right here in the United States.

ZAND-BONAZZI: I think I`m happy about that.

BECK: Are you? Tell me about -- this is what he said about homosexuals. Let`s roll the tape on homosexuals and then you set us straight on the reality.


AHMADINEJAD (through translator): In Iran, we don`t have homosexuals like in your countries. We don`t have that in our country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon.


BECK: It`s incredible on a couple of levels. First, this was really the only time that he got a reaction, you know, talking about wiping off -- you know, wiping people off the face of the earth really didn`t get a negative reaction from Columbia students, but this did.

Tell me the truth about homosexuality and how they`re treated in Iran.

ZAND-BONAZZI: Well, homosexuality is punishable by -- by execution. As we have seen so many of -- so many occasions where especially a couple of summers ago two young men were executed publicly, unfortunately.

And it`s -- it`s a known fact among Iranians that a large majority of the mullahs themselves are bisexual in that they are married, but mainly their sexual preferences are, in fact, swinging towards the homosexual.

And the unfortunate thing is that, in a country where pannectomies and sex change have become a prevalent and very regular mode of operation, I have to say that Mr. Ahmadinejad, as usual, was doing the same old Islamic republic talk (ph), which again you have discussed, which is the -- the concept of dissimulation and lying in order to protect the rule and the lying being the lesser of the two sins of not -- let`s say lying versus not protecting the rule and the regime. And so if you lie it`s OK.

BECK: Banafsheh, thank you very much. Always good to talk to you.

ZAND-BONAZZI: Thank you.

Some people may think too many diaries are written about this. I disagree. This needs to be brought to people's attention again and again as long as they are trying to reoccupy the White House.

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